Saints have been involved in some dramatic, incident-packed and nerve-shredding matches since the birth of summer rugby but few, if any, to compare with what unfolded late in the second half of Thursday’s epic encounter against neighbours Warrington Wolves at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
It simply took your breath away as two old rivals, locked at 12 apiece, went for the jugular in spectacular style.
Both had chances to wrap up the points via a drop goal in a match neither really deserved to lose - Warrington’s Tyrone Roberts fluffing three attempts and team-mate Stefan Ratchford one while St Helens’ Danny Richardson was also off target with a solitary effort.
But Richardson had the last laugh, sending the Saints’ fans in the 12,000-strong shirt-sleeved crowd into a state of ecstasy by landing a long range two-pointer after Warrington had foolishly conceded a penalty seconds before the final hooter sounded.
The scrum half said: “Luckily enough, we were awarded a penalty and it my job to try and land the kicks which I did on this occasion.
“We would have loved to put the game to bed earlier but weren’t at our best tonight and when you are playing teams of Warrington’s calibre it can go right down to the wire.”
The 21-year-old former Halton Hornets junior showed nerves of steel as he lined up the crucial 55 metre kick and no doubt memories came flooding back to a similar situation he faced in the 2016 Academy Grand Final against Wigan Warriors at the same venue when his golden point extra time penalty clinched victory over the Cherry and Whites.
A delighted head coach Justin Holbrook said: “Danny is a great young kid and to possess the ability to step up and take such a kick under so much pressure is special.
“He is everything you want in a youngster, always wanting to back himself which is great to see.”
He added: “Warrington are a good side, well organised and well coached.They came with a certain style of play that was allowed for the whole game but it was hard to watch. So to win that well reflects great credit on our player who were able to hang on and find a way to take both points.”
Not even thriller writer Alfred Hitchcock could have penned such an exhilarating ending as Saints set their sights on completing the Betfred Super League regular season with 12 straight wins in the competition and the Wolves hoping to keep their outside chances alive of pipping Wigan for runners-up spot.
Steve Price’s side were without question the dominant force in the first half and an 8-0 lead at the interval was no more than they deserved.
But a six point response from Holbrook’s outfit before some fans had returned from their half-time cuppa set the tone for the remainder of the match.
The stakes were high and it was hardly surprising that it included a second-half bust up close to the Saints’ line which led to referee James Child, whose handling of an explosive 80 minutes left a great deal to be desired, calling skippers Chris Hill (Warrington) and James Roby together in a bid to take the heat out of the situation.
It was that kind of match !
Saints - tries: Barba (41 mins), Lomax (64)
Goals: Richardson (42,63,80)
Wolves - tries: Clark (11)
Goals: Roberts (12,22,49,53)
Half-time: 0-8. Full-time: 14-12
Referee: James Child
Teams - Saints: 23. Ben Barba; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 19. Regan Grace; 1. Jonny Lomax, 18. Danny Richardson; 10. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Dom Peyroux, 11.
Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin. Subs: 6. Theo Fages, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 15. Morgan Knowles.
Wolves:1. Stefan Ratchford; 2. Tom Lineham, 3. Bryson Goodwin, 18. Toby King, 27. Josh Charnley; 6. Kevin Brown, 7. Tyrone Roberts; 8. Chris Hill, 9. Daryl Clark, 10. Mike Cooper, 20. Harvey Livett, 12. Jack Hughes, 34. Ben Westwood.
Subs: 13. Ben Murdoch-Masila, 15. Declan Patton, 16. Sitaleki Akauola, 17. Joe Philbin.